|Ilford, Advocate II, 35mm wide angle camera, c1953|
This Ilford Advocate is a striking camera with a finish of ivory stove enamel on a die cast aluminium body. Ilford Advocates use a 35mm focal length lens, which produces a usefully wide angle of view. Essentially a simple camera, the shutter is effectively two sector shutters working in opposite directions, giving a brief gap as they pass. This approach allows the use of a fairly simple mechanism but achieving a reasonably quick exposure. The shutter is tensioned as the camera is wound on, which serves as effective double exposure prevention. In order to protect the film as the shutter is cocked and the sectors reset, a secondary shutter is employed which is then retracted during the initial movement of the shutter lever. A little care is required in use, as the shutter release sweeps sideways, and can lead to camera shake. Film loading is made easy as the supply side mount swings out. The markings are a little whimsical, a punched dot, originally filled with red paint is used to set opposite the distance scale for focussing, although Ilford were of the opinion that the lens depth of field would cater for inaccuracy in setting. The focus itself is a little odd, as there is no firm stop, it simply grinds to a halt, going beyond the minimum and maximum scale in both cases. So odd in fact that we opened this one up to see if there was a fault, but no - that's the way it was made. It's simplicity is part of its charm, there is very little to go wrong with it. Despite it's simplicity, it was a well made camera and exudes solidity. The version you see here with the Dallmeyer lens is the most commonly found, but occasionally they pop up with Wray or Ross lenses, both English made. A small number had black lens surrounds and six were made with the body finished in black wrinkle paint finish, a rarity indeed. The flash sockets were aimed at Ilford products, but later Advocates sprouted a standard flash socket above the cable release.
The casting material was drawn into question in 2020, so the back was separated from everything, leaving just the casting, weighing in at 85.5g with a volume of 32.5 cubic cm, gave a density of 2.63, making an aluminium alloy the dominant choice.
Ilford themselves were, and still are, well known for their films and photographic papers. The majority of cameras under the Ilford name were essentially name variants of other maker's cameras but the Advocate is a genuine Ilford all English production albeit manufactured by a subsidiary company. The only more refined camera from them was the handsome Ilford Witness, but they are a rarely found and expensive instrument. This Advocate was acquired December 2000 requiring no work but had the usual clean and service. Below is the film advert inside this camera.
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